Going green can increase gluten contamination

Great article by Donnachadh McCarthy in today’s Independent about minimising your domestic waste … I agree with many of his suggestions, but sadly some of them aren’t going to be possible for some of us, as it is just too dangerous.

market1.jpgDonnachadh’s message is reduce, reuse and recycle, and we do try to do all these – composting, Freecycling etc. But one of his key suggestions we’re just not going to be able to follow, and that is to reduce packaging by buying food from a local co-operative.

He writes:

… the rest of my fresh food comes from Fareshares, a local food cooperative that has large bins of loose organic muesli, rice, cous-cous, dried fruit and nuts. You bring your own bags, and fill them up, thus eliminating loads of wrappers.

Green heaven – unless you also have to be gluten free. What stops the customer before you using the cous-cous scoop to get some raisins, thus contaminating the bag of raisins? What if a bag of normal flour splits on the shelf above the red lentils?

It is important that gluten free food remains free from contamination, from the production line to the shop shelf to the cupboard at home to the stomach.

Those of us who need to be gluten free will have to be brave about the extra packaging this entails … and get to work on all the other areas where we can cut down on the waste we produce.

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Lucy is the mother of a coeliac, and has been managing a gluten free diet for her daughter for 20 years - though, to be fair, she does do most of it herself now...

6 thoughts on “Going green can increase gluten contamination”

  1. Little Pickel is gluten/casein/soy/corn free and we NEVER use any of the bulk products for this very reason. We buy all of our foods prepackaged to avoid contamination. We also have separate pans, plates, a toaster, and utensils for him so we don’t inadvertently mix things.

    Thanks for writing on this topic.

  2. Hi Pickel – it’s tricky enough having a gluten-free child, without having all of the extra issues to deal with as well, so I feel for you.

    We have separate cupboard space, and don’t use a toaster for gluten free bread (we do it under the grill) – but we don’t go as far as separate pans and plates. Did you notice a difference when you switched to separate pans etc, or did you just do this from the start?

  3. i’m one of the people who run fareshares….

    quite a few of us, and our customers, avoid gluten. we stock all sorts of gluten-free products, including pastas, sprouted loaves, fridge cakes, snacks etc.

    i would like to reassure you all that we actually try to prevent cross-contamination as much as possible – for example we have completely different scoops for each foodstuff that we stock. and we keep the bags of flour in a large plastic drum on the floor so the likelihood of it spilling into anything is extremely low.

    please come and check it out for yourselves before making unfounded criticisms… we’re open thurs 2-8pm, fris 3-7pm and sats 3-5pm… at 56 crampton street, london se17 3ae.

  4. Carolyn, thanks for visiting – and for your comment.

    I certainly wasn’t meaning to criticise Fareshares in particular, merely to raise the issue of potential contamination in places where foodstuffs are open to customers to pick and pack, as I have heard others complaining about just this issue. Not, I must add, about Fareshares! But about health stores and supermarkets who don’t seem to be aware of the contamination issues.

    You clearly are aware of the problem, and are doing what you can to eliminate the risk, and for that I congratulate you. I should have made it clear that although Fareshares was mentioned in the quote from the Independent, my comments weren’t aimed at Fareshares in particular. I do apologise.

    Thank you for leaving your location and opening hours details, so that others can visit you to see what you do – and, perhaps, become customers. Do you have a website for people to visit?

  5. The reason everything is packed and wrapped up to the nines is simply that a lot of people do not wash their hands or fail to do it properly.

    E coli, Salmonella and other such bacteria are quickly shared this way.

    So… when you see complimentary peanuts or other unwrapped foods that everyone has been merrily fishing in, remember to avoid it!

    And if you host a party, please avoid creating such disease fountains…

  6. Hi Cinnamon – that’s a good point, and definitely worth bearing in mind, particularly in public places…

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